Last week a new gameplay trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda was released during the 2016 Game Awards, and boy oh boy, does it ever look pretty.
It’s one of those trailers that leaves me in awe of the technology of today’s games. It’s almost ridiculous how much power and beauty developers can now fit into any given game, particularly games on this scale. Plus, it’s Mass Effect, which already has an incredibly appealing universe. Over the years, it’s given us some of the most memorable characters and sites in gaming. The trilogy of original games certainly tops my list of all-time favorites.
Having followed Andromeda’s development and now seeing this trailer, I’m really starting to feel like it’s not a game I want to play. If you’ll allow me, dear readers, a selfish callback to a post I wrote here: Thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda as an Open World Game. In it I questioned the then-rumor that Andromeda was, in fact, going to be open world:
Does the gaming landscape need an open world Mass Effect game? Would it be good for the series? Are we talking, like, No Man’s Sky meets Dragon Age: Inquisition or something else?
I’m hardly saying I was right, but doesn’t the voiceover in the trailer make it sound like Andromeda will be something like a cross between No Man’s Sky meets Dragon Age: Inquisition? Actually, I’ll take back the Inquisition reference, and instead say that it looks like No Man’s Sky as an arena shooter. And that’s not better. So here are a few personal and speculative reasons why I’m not jumping on the Mass Effect: Andromeda bandwagon…yet.
1) One mission, a billion sidequests
In Andromeda, it’s said that you have a singular mission: to find a new home for humanity. Well, look, that’s one heck of a enormous mission, one that’s bound to be peppered with loads of sidequests. And sidequests are all well and good, but when they overtake the game, it becomes too easy to lose sight of who you are, your connection to other characters, and most importantly, your single mission. I have no idea of this is truly going to be the case with Andromeda, but it honestly sounds like it might. And I would likely spend far too much time just ambling around the universe before realizing that, oh yeah, I’m actually supposed to make that exploration lead towards something. My gaming time is limited enough, so I’d really have to question what ventures in the game would be worth pursuing. And that would probably lead to more ambling, more getting lost in the little things, and eventually, flat-out frustration.
2) Resource management
Have I ever told you how bad I am at resource management in games? I probably haven’t, because I don’t play many games where resource management is a thing that must be mastered, such as Civilization. From what it sounds like, in Andromeda, you’re going to have to find, collect, and administer any number of different resources in order to build humanity its home. If that turns out to be the case, it makes perfect sense – that’s huge part of any sort of colonization effort. Now, while I do enjoy planning and strategizing in games, doing so on the scale of what will more than likely be required in Andromeda sounds perfectly stressful. And once again, when I’m put into an open-world situation, all my important tasks usually fly out the window as soon as I’m distracted by the next shiny thing. I can only imagine that I would find myself coming up quite short as the chief project planner for humanity.
3) Ryder vs. Shepard
Andromeda is set several hundred years after the events of Mass Effect, and in it you play as a male or female character named Ryder. While I’ve read that Ryder will be highly customizable, I have to cheap out and say that I don’t know that any one will ever replace Shepard. The one aspect that makes the character of Shepard so important is that Shepard is the player. I know it’s easy enough to complain that, because Shepard is at the crux of the original trilogy, Mass Effect just isn’t Mass Effect with him/her, but there’s more to it than seeming petulance. Seeing Andromeda now, I do wonder if player agency will be as pronounced in it. Will it allow you to feel like you’ve save the galaxy, or will it really be Ryder all dressed up in fancy skills?
As with all things gaming, these are just my present feelings. Everything could change next year. However, I can say that I generally haven’t been all that excited for Mass Effect: Andromeda, and seeing this new trailer only heightened those feelings, unfortunately. I wish no ill upon the game; in truth, I hope it’s Bioware’s greatest success to date. I’m just not yet sure if I want to be part of that success.